Category Archives: Shel Silverstein

The Pencil Today:

TODAY’S QUOTE

“When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest.” — Ernest Hemingway. Today’s temperatures should reach the 60s in South Central Indiana.

BOOKS MAKE A HOME

I’ll scream if I hear anyone saying teachers get paid too much. Or that they don’t deserve collective bargaining rights.

Granted, there are lousy teachers. Hell, I was saddled with, oh, seven of them through my eight years of elementary school. The one outstanding teacher I had, Miss Tristano in fifth grade, was a full-fledged hero. She’d been teaching at Our Lady of the Angels in December, 1958, when fire tore through the school and killed 92 kids and three nuns.

Iconic Image Of The Our Lady Of The Angels Fire

Anyway, a teacher doesn’t necessarily have to brave an inferno to do heroic things. Take Kathy Loser, the librarian over at Bloomington High School North.

She visits the Book Corner regularly. She dropped in Wednesday, all aflutter. She was consumed by a brilliant new idea that she hopes the school and the bookshop will buy into.

Kathy Loser

Here it is:

BHSN is one of the few schools in the nation to sponsor a Habitat for Humanity chapter. The kids have been helping build a home for a family with a couple of young children. The house will be ready to move into next month.

Kathy was watching — what else? — “It’s A Wonderful Life” over the holidays. When she got to the point where the Italian family moves into their new home and the neighbors all welcomed them with gifts of wine and groceries, housewarming seed gifts as it were, Kathy got a brainstorm.

Why not present the new family with seed gifts for a new home library?

Her plan is simple. Some of the kids can make a wooden bookscase for the place. Kids in the social studies classes can draw up a list of kids’ books and some standard reference works that every home should have.

Then, with the help of the attractive and charming Book Corner staff, a kind of new home library registry can be created.

BHSN parents and other citizens can come to the shop whenever they need to purchase gifts for their kids or other family and friends. Only the recipients won’t keep the gifts. The customers will select a book from the registry, buy it in the recipient’s name, and the book will be packaged with all the other such gifts and presented to the new home family along along with the bookcase on the day the move in.

What a great idea!

Kathy Loser is so gung-ho for it that she actually bought the first book. It’s “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein. “Every home should have this, don’t you think?” Kathy asked as she plunked the book down on the counter.

I think indeed.

Give Kathy a call at the school, 812.330.7724, ext. 50197, to let her know you like the idea or to make suggestions for the registry or even to donate time or money to the cause.

THE DEFINITIVE REPUBLICAN

What is a Republican?

Someone who espouses financial prudence?

A backer of strong defense?

An opponent of strong federal regulations?

A pro-lifer?

Look no further than State Senator Vaneta Becker, who represents the Evansville area in the statehouse. Oh, she’s a Republican.

Becker: “Do It My Way Or Else. That’s Freedom!”

The Republican, in fact, at this weird, weird moment in American history.

Becker has introduced SB 122 this week. It calls for strict standards to be set for the performance of the national anthem at school events. Performers who violate those standards would be fined.

She says the proposed standards would reflect “how we feel about freedom.”

Not habeas corpus. Not the Bill of Rights (except for the sacred Second). Not torture. Not wiretapping. Not personal information harvesting. Not any of the things that Republicans and their all-too-willing Democratic apologists have created or destroyed in response the the specter of scary brown people.

Nope. The national anthem. That, Becker says, is our freedom.

Becker is the modern Republican.

AMERICA, THE BEAUTIFUL

This is a better song than the “Star Spangled Banner” anyway. And no one could sing it like Ray Charles.

Today: Wednesday, November 16, 2011

MY NAME IS SUE, HOW DO YOU DO? NOW YOU GONNA DIE.

Heard a great quote from the late economist John Maynard Keynes this morning.

“In the long term,” he said, “we’re all dead.”

Sounds pessimistic, no?

No. I take it to mean, Get the hell going and do something now.

And, in fact, that’s what Keynes was was advocating. He was a crisis economist. His idea was that during periods of financial collapse, worrying too much about the long, long range repercussions of rescue efforts gives short shrift to people who are suffering now.

Yeah, Keynes was being a smart ass when he uttered the line. That’s probably the main reason I like it. The above-mentioned reason, though, ranks a very close second.

We’re all the walking dead. Throughout my entire adult life, my guiding principle has been, What am I gonna think about when I’m laying on my deathbed?

Am I going to think, Man, that was quick; and watching all those episodes of “Two and a Half Men” really made it fly by?

This Is How You Want To Spend Your Life?

So, early on, I decided to do what I love and hopefully, in my infinitesimally miniscule way, give this crazy, mixed-up world something good. I became a writer.

My idea was I could introduce readers to people they’d never be able to meet, describe places they’d never be able to see, and explain things they’d never have an opportunity to think about.

I’ve been rewarded with a rich life of fascinating characters, broadened horizons, and occasional crushing poverty. You can’t win them all.

A pal of mine — let’s call her Thalia — just quit her job. She wants to start her own online business. The going has been slow and stress-inducing. But she’s plugging away almost to the point of jeopardizing her health and whatever sanity she has left.

Thalia visited me at The Book Corner the other day. She danced around my questions about how things were going until, finally, she could no longer evade them. “I’m scared,” she said. “Plus, there’s that voice in my head that says Are you nuts? Whaddya doing? You’ve got no business starting your own business.”

If she was smart, if she was prudent, if she was thinking about the “long term,” she’d have stayed in her job. And died a long death.

She’ll live now. She’ll continue to eat — albeit in smaller portions. But she wants to trade in a product she loves and has been trained in. And she wants to do something that just might do this crazy, mixed-up world some good.

Yep, Thalia will really live now — that is, until she dies.

WHO’S SUE?

Does the previous entry’s headline ring a bell? It’s a line from a very famous song, the biggest hit Johnny Cash ever had, called, “A Boy Named Sue.”

I used to listen to it constantly on the transistor radio I had surgically attached to my ear during the summer of 1969, much to the annoyance of all adults in my general vicinity.

The best line I could think of that referred to death was the one about the boy, Sue. You know who wrote that song? Shel Silverstein.

Yup, That Shel Silverstein

POUNDING THE KEYBOARD

Not every local writer or author is as wildly celebrated as our own Joy Shayne Laughter.

Passing motorists point at her and shout, “Hey, there’s the chick in the fedora!”

Our Joy

She lives a life that’s the envy of South Central Indiana. In fact, she was seen the other day at Kleindorfer’s, shelling out big bucks for the most expensive snow shovel in the place.

Some scribes, though, toil away in anonymity.

Take Larry Eubank. Comes in to The Book Corner every morning for a Herald Times. Always listening to music on his quaint, old-school headphones. Friendly as can be.

He was holding a copy of a brand new book in his hand when he came in yesterday morning. He held it up and said, “Just to let you know, I brought this in. I’m not shoplifting.”

So I put the phone down before the 911 operator could pick up.

“You’re lucky, pal,” I said, watching him through narrowed lids.

Turns out the book in his hand was, indeed, his. As in, he wrote it.

It’s his second book. Ironically, I’d just sold his first book last week to an Ivy Tech student who’d expressed an interest in works on socialism vs. capitalism. That book was called “The Case against Capital.” Larry’s new book is called “Why Marx Was Wrong.”

The copy he had in his hand was an uncorrected galley edition. It’ll be published by AuthorHouse.

Larry and I likely would disagree about everything up to and including whether the sun will rise in the east tomorrow morning. He’s penned articles for, among others, the website WorldNetDaily, a gang whose very existence makes me break out in hives.

But what of it? That’s one of the reasons I became a writer — to get to know people who I wouldn’t normally pal around with. To broaden, as I mentioned earlier, my horizons.

Larry Eubank is still as friendly as can be. And he’s living his dream. I like that.

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